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04.06.19

NHS sets out plans to train, hire and retain thousands more staff in interim People Plan

The NHS “must be the best place to work” on top of far greater staff numbers, the new interim NHS People Plan has revealed as the health service turns to Mumsnet as part of a bid to recruit an extra 40,000 nurses.

Developed over the last few months by NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Interim People Plan for the NHS proposes a number of measures to tackle the “once-in-a-generational” NHS workforce crisis.

The online parenting chatroom and website Mumsnet will be involved in a new campaign to encourage nurses who have left the profession to rejoin.

NHS bosses say they want to significantly improve retention rates by putting greater emphasis on career development, and international recruitment will also be targeted by appointing lead agencies to co-ordinate the recruitment search.

The interim plan sets out how the NHS will aim to immediately increase the number of undergraduates studying nursing through more than 5,700 extra placements for students this year, and the number of nursing associates will be increased to 7,500.

But the plan also emphasises the importance of making the NHS “the best place to work” by addressing concerns from frontline staff over the extreme pressures they face, a ‘burnout’ crisis highlighted by the BMA in April.

The People Plan says it aims to rapidly address the current pensions controversy which is “discouraging experienced doctors and nurses from doing extra work” and causing them to consider leaving the NHS.

A major staff engagement exercise will also be launched this summer, led by new chief people officer Prerana Issar, to “create an explicit offer to staff” which will address their major concerns.

Chair of NHS Improvement, Dido Harding, said: “We haven’t waited for this plan to be published. Practical action has already started.

“The NHS is its people. This plan clearly acknowledges the workforce challenges the service faces. I want frontline NHS staff to know that we have heard their concerns about the pressures they face and we are determined to address them.

She stated that the NHS needs more staff to meet the ambitions set out in the Long-Term Plan, but “that, on its own, is not enough.” Harding said the way people work in the NHS must be changed and whilst this may take time, the interim plan sets out a clear direction of travel and commits to immediate action.

Health secretary Matt Hancock commented: “We are securing the future of our NHS for generations to come with record investment through our Long-Term Plan, but there’s no question: we need more staff and a more supportive culture to make that plan a reality.

“The interim people plan is the first step. It sets out plans to train more, hire more, and retain more staff. The NHS will take immediate action over the coming year to lay the foundations to grow a future workforce that can truly deliver the highest-quality care to patients from the cradle to grave.”

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